Another busy week here at the Motherhouse

Sunday, at the end of Mass, we had the commissioning of our new group of Franciscan Community Volunteers: Julia Sias, Anna Konopacky, Brandon Montgomery and Tamera Wiley. This is our second year of sponsoring Franciscan Volunteers. They will be working in the Saint Cloud area with those who are poor and needy. Individually they will grow in the three areas of service, community and spirituality.
Pictured are the new volunteers with the Franciscan Sisters of the Welcoming House.

Saturday evening we hosted the 50-year reunion of the class of 1961 from St. Francis High School. Twenty-eight ladies and many husbands attended the 5 p.m. Mass and had a delicious dinner afterwards. At the end of Mass they listed and lit a candle for the 11 deceased members of the class. Sr. Elise, staff member at the time these ladies were in school, gave an inspirational homily. Other staff, who were available, also attended the gathering.

On Saturday, too, it was announced that Kathy Whittington has been hired as the new Volunteer Coordinator. Now Jenifer Bash will become the new Health and Recreation Department Director. Welcome to both ladies to their new jobs.

Thursday, August 25th, feast of King St. Louis and patron of the Franciscan Third Order, we had the commitment ceremony of Elizabeth Black as a new Franciscan Associate. In her request to be an Associate she said, “I desire to be an Associate of this Franciscan Community of Little Falls, Minnesota because I wish to be sister to all of you and to all of God’s creatures. With you and with God’s help I want to make the world a more loving, just and peaceful community. Together with you, l want to carry the spirit of Francis and Clare into our world.” Elizabeth is pictured center with Franciscan Sisters and Franciscan Associate Ministers: L to R: Sisters Therese Lenz, Therese Furnstahl, Bea Eichten (Community Minister), Elizabeth, Judy Virnig (Franciscan Associate Co-Minister) and Geri Dietz (Franciscan Associate Minister)

Once a month the Values and Activities Committees, recognize and say thank-you to the staff of various departments. We recognize the Technology Department this month of August. Elsie and her assistant, Anne, help us all out by fixing our computer problems. They also “take care of” the sound system troubles in Chapel and St. Francis Hall and wherever else we have glitches. Thank you for your wonderful services, Elsie and Anne, pictured here with Sister Eileen.

Last week, also, Sr. Cordy finished the painting of the house where they did ministry in Tennessee some years back. The picture will be displayed at the current place of ministry in TN.

And last Wednesday we had a one-day Red Cross blood drive. Our goal was 80. We received 94 units of blood and 9 people were turned away for whatever good reasons. The Red Cross likes coming here as we always have many generous donors and meet our goal. The donors like our home-made cookies, too. Thank you, generous donors.

Last week we also finished a butterfly puzzle. And a live Monarch butterfly hatched. Sr. Bernice brought it for the Sisters to see before she released it outside (pictured below).

The Directors of Nursing will be here for their meetings Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

We have a Bilingual Mass on Friday.

Praise God with me that my broken ankle is healing nicely and I can wear two shoes again! Who would think that an exciting event? If you ever wore that big black boot, you’d know.

In a week we have Labor Day and the beginning of the new school year. Once a teacher, always a teacher. I always got excited about the beginning of the new school year…and I still do.

Pax et Bonum. Peace and all good.

Sister Mary Lou


God is Always Here Watching Over Us

These weeks come around so fast. And it was another busy week. I took this picture of the shadow of the cross over the front door of the Convent at noon the other day. We know that God is always here watching over us.

Our Sister Margarita Weiner went to heaven late Thursday night. I was scheduled to sit with her 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. and she died at 11:23 p.m. (But my angel woke me up at 12:40 so that’s when I found out she had gone to heaven.) When a Sister is dying the Sisters hold vigil with her. We welcomed her body back to the Motherhouse with a short prayer service at 3:30 Sunday afternoon with a Franciscan Wake at 7 p.m. Her Funeral is today at 11 a.m. The Archives staff does a very nice display of her life and ministry.

Our retreat with Sister Joanne Meyer, OSF, was a good one. The Testament of St. Francis was the topic. I had read the Testament many times. Now it makes such good sense to me. There were about 40 of us in the retreat.

On Sunday we celebrated five of our Sisters who have been Little Falls Franciscans for 60 years. That’s a long time. Each has done such great works of ministry. The picture shows them at Mass renewing their vows.

For several weeks now we have been eating apples from our orchard. They are so good. The trees are heavy with an abundant crop.

The other day the dietary department celebrated Texas with appropriate foods and a counter display. Menu items included: Texas Chili, corn bread, country fired steaks, Texas cut potatoes and cake with pecan frosting. A couple weeks ago we celebrated California. I’ll have to wait to see which state is next.

Next Saturday the class of 1961 from St. Francis High School is coming for a class reunion. The girls always enjoy visiting with one another and coming back to see where they lived and went to school. It is always good to have them come, too.

Our new group of Franciscan Community Volunteers will be welcomed and commissioned nest Sunday. More about them next week.

The Red Cross Bloodmobile will be here Wednesday for a one-day blood drive from 1 to 7 p.m.
God bless you.

Sister Mary Lou


Feast of the Assumption of Mary

A little over and inch of rain Saturday night and a couple tenths last night. With all the rain there are little bunches of mushrooms popping up all over the north lawn. Yesterday was a beautiful day.

Yesterday we celebrated the 50th Jubilees of six of our Sisters. The 11 a.m. Liturgy was full of great singing and lots of good music. The altar area was beautiful with lovely flowers and the two 12-foot red banners with gold ribbons. The Sisters had many family and friends join them for the day. It truly was a day of Jubilee. In her welcome at the beginning of Mass, Sr. Bea listed some of the events happening in 1961 when these Sisters entered the Order. I’d forgotten some of those events.

Tonight Retreat starts for about 50 of us. Sister Joanne Meyer, OSF is the Retreat Director. The topic is: The Testament of Francis. I am looking forward to it. Retreat will end Sunday morning. Ahortly before the Jubilee Mass.

Next Sunday we celebrate the five 60- year Jubilarians. A am so amazed at and proud of all the good works these Sisters have done in their 75, 50 and 60 years of their Religious Life…students they’ve taught, sick they cared for, poor and needy they’ve helped in so many ways. They have been of service in such Franciscan ways.

It’s been a while since I included one of the wooden banners from the Canticle of Creatures by St. Francis. “Praise to You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.” (I am sure those people who suffer because of an over-abundance of water, don’t feel it such a blessing…and those in severe drought pray for and long-for the gift of rain and water.)

Last week, “they” finished the 1,000-piece puzzle of Wild Ducks and other wild birds. Many Sisters and others spend little slots of time putting in a piece or two at a time. And the end results are beautiful.

I will keep you in prayer this week while I am in retreat.

God bless and continue to care for you.

Sister Mary Lou


Paint-A-Thon, Green Fair, Earth Citizen Awards, 75th Jubilee

Wednesday already! I’d better get this blog written before it is time to write the next one.

The Paint-A-Thon was washed out last Saturday. After a prayer, we fed approximately 65 painters a free, good breakfast at First United Church, starting at 6:46 a.m., had a safety talk and sent them on their way. The Franciscan Sisters donated 10 dozen cinnamon and caramel rolls for the breakfast. Most teams were just ready to start work when we had a heavy downpour. So that ended the painting hopes for the day. A second heavy shower came about 11:15. The homeowners and the teams will set a time during this week and the houses will all get painted. I know one house got painted the next day and the grateful homeowner served the team a full chicken dinner when they finished their work! Here we had about 2 ½ inches of rain on Saturday but other places in the county got from 3 to 5 inches of rain. At the breakfast, I met the new Oasis-Share-A-Meal director, Tim Poland. He will have big shoes to fill after all that Carol has done for the program these past 11 years.

Last Wednesday evening we had the fifth annual Green Fair Folk Festival. It was another very successful event. MANY people came to listen to good music, to learn about products and services that are earth friendly, to eat good food and have a good time.

We had many activities for the many children who came with their families. It was fun to just watch the children participate in all the activities and have such a good time. Blowing soap bubbles is always a favorite. We went through lots of soap for bubbles!

Fresh bread with peanut butter and jelly was another favorite. We used 14 loaves of bread (22 slices per loaf). Free ice water was another good treat. Terry was busy all evening refilling the three four-gallon containers. Daryl’s Dog House sold out of hot dogs. His dogs are 100% beef with no preservatives. The buns, too, made at Dutch Maid Bakery in St. Cloud, have no preservatives and are made fresh each day. Pizza Hut ran out of pizza and the dairy Queen brought in extra Dilly Bars to keep up with the demand.

The Second Annual Franciscan Earth Citizen awards were given to Sister Ruth Lentner, Bev Gerads and Gloria Castro. Recipients of this award have shown commitment to living by principles of the Earth Charter. Congratulations. To learn more about the Earth Charter check out www.earthcharterinaction.org.

The booklet given to guest s had two make-your-own laundry soap recipes and the directions for making your own T-shirt bags. At our house we have used these laundry soaps since the first year of the Green Fair. The Little Falls Mounted Police helped with car parking.

Sunday we celebrated Sister Helen Ann Klepaida’s 75th Jubilee. Many of her family and friends came to be with her. We had priests from three different Religious Orders concelebrating the Mass: a Jesuit, a Crosier Bishop and our Benedictine chaplain…and we had a lot of Franciscans in the congregation. It was a wonderful day.

During the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass, a small group of Sisters sang in Polish, “Serdeczna Matko,” a beautiful hymn to the Blessed Mother. They did a fantastic job!

Now this coming Sunday we are celebrating our six Golden Jubilarians. So far I’ve seen only a couple big red banners with gold ribbons that will be part of the ambiance. So we are getting ready for another big celebration. We look forward to seeing the many guests who will be with us for the day.

Peace and All Good.

Sister Mary Lou


Beautiful Sunflowers

Outside our greenhouse we have a couple tall and beautiful sunflowers.

Some pretty damaging wind and rain again the last few days. God bless the folks who are cleaning up after all the mess…keep them safe and give them the energy they need.

This Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. we have the Green Fair Folk Festival here on the west parking lot at the Motherhouse. Music and ecological awareness are part of this event.

In 2004 it started out as a concert for peace and then since 2007 we enlarged the scope of activities for the Festival. Jennifer Basch, Volunteer Department director, said, “Care for creation is so important to the Franciscan Sisters that we formed a Campus Green Committee, whose mission was to accentuate green awareness and to “green” the campus in every way possible. The passion of the Green Committee members, combined with the love of music from St. Francis Music Center, blended into this unique community festival.”

Area fiddlers, the U-Rock bands, the Sestri Slavic women’s choir, the St. Francis Community Chorale and other groups will supply wonderful music. There will be food vendors on the grounds, also. One favorite food is fresh, home-made bread peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It will be a fun time for everyone.

Next Sunday we will honor Sister Helen Anne Klepaida for her 75 years as a Franciscan Sister. A Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated at 11 a.m. with a dinner and reception to follow. She has served in the health ministry throughout the years as a staff registered nurse, disaster Red Cross volunteer and public health nurse, and as a hospice nurse. Congratulations, Sister Helen Anne.

Saturday, August 6th, is the date for the Morrison County Paint-A-Thon. This event started in 1993. All volunteers and home owners are invited to First United Church for a 6:45 a.m. breakfast, pep and safety talk and a prayer to send them safely on their way to paint 8 homes. Those homes are located in Little Falls, Bowlus, Elmdale, Swanville and Royalton. I have been a member of this committee for a number of years. The Franciscan Sisters furnish 10 dozen cinnamon and caramel rolls for the breakfast. Please pray for favorable painting weather. Thanks.

Last week, Wednesday through Saturday, 18 of our Sisters attended the Annual Franciscan Federation Conference in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The theme of the conference was “Becoming a Sacred Flame: Francis, Clare and John’s Gospel.” Main speakers were Sister Nancy Schreck, OSF and Fr. Michael Blastic, OFM. Sister Carmen Barsody received the honoree award from our community for the many ways she sparks enthusiasm for our Franciscan charism.

That’s all for this week.

Peace and blessings,

Sister Mary Lou